Revlayer Growing, But Video Viewers May Hate It

New York’s Revlayer is one of several companies aiming to solve a problem for site owners: how do you make money off the YouTube videos you’re embedding? This is especially relevant to large tech blogs, which devote valuable screen real estate to gadget videos, but must rely on banner ads for revenue.


Revlayer founder Allen Stern presented at last night’s New York Web 2.0 Social Networking meetup–and got a good response. Revlayer is simple: add some code to your site, and ads appear over the start screen of any video you embed; hence, the “revenue layer.” To play the video, visitors then either have to click a “view video” button to close the ad, or click on the ad (which, annoyingly, takes them to the advertiser’s site). The patent-pending technology works with a variety of ad programs, both pay-per-click and CPM-based, including Google AdSense,, and Revlayer’s own ad network.

Stern says several hundred publishers have signed up for the service, which is great news for his three-man startup. But it will be interesting to see how Web video watchers, accustomed to the free-for-all YouTube concept, react.  In contrast to solutions like Adap.TV’s, which look like screen graphics, services like Revlayer require an action to disable an ad that’s blocking the video you want to watch–and they hide the video so completely that you can’t see the opening screen underneath (not to mention the “play” button).  Without an effective text-based explanation of why you should bother to watch the video, this approach could reduce video click-throughs, which would reduce the incentive to put them on the site in the first place.

Revlayer’s Stern admits that the company’s solution is probably more annoying than a banner ad to the side of the video. He argues correctly, however, clicking “view video” is not nearly as bad as sitting through a 15- or 30-second pre-roll. And for publishers, any and all video revenue solutions are welcome.

Last night’s crowd also heard from two more local startups. Confabb is hoping to become the go-to resource for conference information. The company has built up a huge directory of conferences and is looking to sell white-label Web sites to conference organisers that link into Confabb’s reputation and social networking features like speaker ratings, Flickr streams, discussion forums and party-finders.

Andrew Ward also presented his new company, TrustFX, which is looking to build a massive database of user-generated reviews of services ranging from dentists to construction contractors. A fine idea, but hard to pull off: It will take a lot of time, work and user incentive to build a big enough database to be useful, and small businesses excel at faking reviews.